What We Can Learn From Josh and Grace

Every once in a while, you come across a simple story that brings a smile to your face and a tear to your eye; a story that makes you realize what is important and gives you hope for the future. Today I discovered once such story on Facebook from two young fellow Canadians, Josh and Grace.

Josh is 18 years old and has Down Syndrome. Grace is his older sister and best friend. They have a message that they would like to share. They need no help from me. Everything is eloquently explained in the two-minute video below.

It’s hard to imagine anyone not being touched after seeing this. In their 18-picture, 115-word slide show, Josh and Grace convey a message of love, understanding, openness and respect for others—virtues that are too often lacking nowadays.

There are also several things that we can learn from Josh and Grace when it comes to public speaking and presentation skills.

  • Have a clear message.
  • Don’t use complicated words when simple ones will do.
  • Facial expressions and gestures enhance the effectiveness of your words.
  • Eye contact is crucial to forming a bond with the audience.
  • Humour is good.
  • Humour balanced with a serious message is even better.
  • Having a memorable line will help your message resonate with the audience long after you are finished. “Real friends don’t count chromosomes.” Superb!
  • Don’t worry about being perfect. Your audience doesn’t expect to be perfect; it wants you to be present.
  • A call to action — “I’ll give you a chance, if you give me one too.” — is a powerful way to end a speech or presentation.
  • Speak from the heart.
  • Be yourself.
  • Smile.

Please leave a comment if you picked up any other lessons, whether they have to do with public speaking or not.

In the meantime, my sincere congratulations to Josh and Grace for making this slideshow and my best wishes for the future. I am happy to be able to help spread the message.

For those of you who would like to support the great organizations that promote the rights, abilities and dignity of people with Down Syndrome, you may make a donation to the Canadian Down Syndrome Society.


About John Zimmer

International speaker, presentation skills expert, lawyer, improv performer
This entry was posted in Analysis of a Speech, Delivery and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to What We Can Learn From Josh and Grace

  1. Becky says:


    Thank you for doing this. I have a 14 year old brother named Josh with DS and this is so true for me as an older sister. More people need to see this and understand about these special people in our lives.


    • John Zimmer says:

      Hi Becky,

      Thanks for the comment and for sharing a small piece of your story. I am glad to be able to help spread the word, if only in a small way. Best of luck to you and Josh for the future.


  2. CGWSV says:

    What a wonderful story. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Nancy says:

    Dear John,

    I am Josh and Grace’s mom. I can’t thank you enough for making the kid’s message go just a little further. Your words warm my heart. The world is becoming more accepting with the help of people like you and Josh and Grace. They really are a couple of special people.


    • John Zimmer says:

      Dear Nancy,

      How wonderful to hear from you. I am delighted that you enjoyed the blog post and am more than happy to do a tiny bit to help build up awareness and break down stereotypes. My very best wishes to you and your family. Please pass my warm regards to Josh and Grace.


  4. Danielle says:

    Love this! Please watch my video as well! My little sister has Down syndrome and this is our video to spread Down syndrome and autism awareness.

    • John Zimmer says:

      Hi Danielle. Thanks very much for the comment and for sharing the video about Emily. I am glad that you have provided the link and am happy to encourage people to watch it and reflect on it.



  5. Stephen Klekas says:

    I loved this. Where are josh and grace from? I have a little brother with downs too and would love to talk to them!

    • John Zimmer says:

      Hi Stephen,

      Thanks for the message. I am not exactly sure where Josh and Grace are from, though they are from somewhere in Ontario, Canada. You should be able to find more details by Googling them.


  6. Thanks, great post! They are very inspirational!

  7. Ron Katz says:


    Beautiful story, beautiful message, and for public speakers, beautiful application.

    Your use of this video in a business framework does not lessen its power at all and demonstrates how using “non-business” videos and stories will often make a more powerful point than a business anecdote. We’ve all heard about boiling frogs, changing tires on a car going 60 MPH but how much more powerful was the message from these two wonderful young people.



    • John Zimmer says:

      I very much appreciate the comment, Ron. I agree with you completely about the power of non-traditional stories, videos, etc. in a business context. It reminds me of the great book “Made to Stick” where Chip and Dan Heath where unexpectedness is one of the indicia of a sticky message. Of course, this video is about something much more important than a presentation and I hope that this comes through in the post. Still, I enjoy finding public speaking inspiration in unlikely places and am glad that you like the post.



  8. Lynn Dehetre says:


    Thank you so much for sharing … I loved it! What powerful messages in just a few short minutes. I agree with Olivia, your comments afterward were great. Everyone who takes the time to look at this video will get something out of it.

    I went to an Andy Andrews live event a couple of days ago & he spoke about how important it is to feed your mind with positive information. This is certainly what he prescribed! It is also prompting me to post a video that is similar. Hopefully I will do that next. Thanks. Make today a great one!!

    Lynn 🙂

    • John Zimmer says:

      Many thanks for the comment, Lynn. Much appreciated. It’s a great example of how one can convey an incredible message in very few words. Simplicity really is the ultimate sophistication, as Leonardo da Vinci said.

      Best of luck with your own video. Let us know when it is up.


  9. “Real friends don’t count chromosomes,” made me cry. Man, I’m too emotional for a man. Great stuff, John!

  10. John, there are many beautiful people in the world and you are one of them. (I know you will edit this first bit out! or maybe not!) You took this story and extended it a step further. You pointing out all the simple things to be appreciated and ended with information as to how we could change ourselves from passive consumers to active changers.

    Thanks for empowering us.


    • John Zimmer says:

      Thanks, Olivia. I really appreciate the comment. The post was easy to write – Josh and Grace did all the work. And given that I am so rarely associated with a word like “beautiful” there was no way that I was going to edit it out! 😉


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